NORMAN — Norman Public Schools Superintendent Nick Migliorino shared what he learned while visiting over 1,000 classrooms this school year during the Norman Chamber of Commerce State of the Schools luncheon on Friday.
Migliorino said part of the reason he decided to go to every single school and classroom across the district because he needed to know each person in the district.
He said these conversations have impacted him personally as well as impacting his leadership style and redefined his what does as the district’s superintendent.
“Let me tell you, we have the best, and the brightest, and the most committed teachers and employees in this district that I have ever seen,” Migliorino said. “As superintendent of Norman Public Schools, I work for more people than anyone else in the district. I work for the 2,000 employees, I work for the over 16,000 students, I work for the parents that go along with every single child. I work for a lot of people and I am responsible to a lot of people.”
Migliorino said Norman Public Schools now has 50 percent of the student population on free or reduced lunch and some individual schools have a much higher percentage of students on free and reduced lunch.
NPS also has a projected graduation rate at the high schools of 94.3 percent.
“That is incredible. That speaks to every person in this room, all the teachers that stand in front of our students every day and the support mechanisms we wrap around our student,” Migliorino said. “We’re not just recognized around around the state, we are recognized nationally as a premiere district.”
Migliorino said the changing demographics of the community and increased diversity at NPS is one of the district’s strengths, especially because NPS is focused on embracing that diversity and using different experiences to make the school stronger.
One of Migliorino’s concerns is that the district is not seeing the same growth other districts around Norman have seen over the past few years.
“I have a non-scientific way of looking at what your community is going to look like in five years; look at your schools now,” Migliorino said. “In five years, your community will look like your school does now.”
Norman saw a growth of 150 students in enrollment this year. The surrounding districts averaged between 300 and 500 more students. Norman’s growth has been nearly flat for the last two years.
Migliorino said districts become stronger and gain funding in one of two ways; they either see an increase in ad valorem or growth in the student population.
“We have to do something in this community to stimulate growth,” Migliorino said. “We’re in a great place, we are doing incredible things, but we could be doing a lot more.”
But Migliorino said it isn’t all on the local community. Districts across Oklahoma need to be able to make a five year plan with assurances that their funding won’t change halfway through the first year, according to Migliorino.
The superintendent said having a reliable funding plan is his first concern when talking with legislators. His second is better teacher pay, both of which he hopes is addressed during the second special session, which begins on Dec. 18.
“Stop kicking the can. Stop kicking it down the road,” Migliorino said to the legislature. “You are elected officials … figure it out.”